31 Dec 2016

Dear 2016

Dear 2016

Well hello there pals, how are ya? Was your Christmas full of magic sparkly goodness?

Mine was a general joy of travelling down the country (started in Sheffield, ended in Kent) to see all the lovely people, generous gifts and, of course, all the foods (including three Christmas dinners).

The only downer was my dad managing to break his foot. It was my first day off work, I’d arrived in Sheffield, was sat on the bed reading and I could already feel myself starting to unwind. I was just starting to think that my dad had been a while on his daily run when I heard the door. About ten minutes later, I heard him walking up the stairs very slowly.

“You alright?” I called out.

“Er, I think I might have just broken my foot.”

“Eh?”

He hobbled into my room and I immediately noticed the lump on his foot.

“Oh my god, is that your bone sticking the wrong way?!”

“I’m not sure. But I’m almost certain I heard something snap when I fell over.”

I cringed and curled my toes and all the other things you do when you’re in a omg say no more or I’ll vom kind of situation.

So I called a taxi to get us to the minor injuries clinic and reluctantly got dressed. My dad meanwhile, packed a rucksack with a book and snacks.

“Erm, you’re not going on holiday,” my sister pointed out.

“You’ll thank me when we’ve been sat in A&E for four hours” my dad said whilst hobbling around.

“If we’re there for four hours,” I growled, “I’ll break your other foot.”

I pride myself on my excellent bedside manner.

In fact, we were in and out the clinic in 40 minutes so, if you fancy breaking a bone kids, do so on a quiet Wednesday evening before 8pm (when the minor injuries clinic closes).

Other than that hiccup (although not entirely sure my dad would agree that snapping your metatarsal bone is a mere hiccup), Christmas was rather dandy.

G and I emerged from the Christmas bubble when we got home on the morning of the 28th and then immediately entered the Christmas-New Year limbo where you forget what day/week/month it is and lie on the sofa eating cheese and chicken&stuffing sandwiches whilst watching the selection of random films on the telly. It’s marvellous until you hit that point where your stomach starts cramping cos it can no longer handle the cheese food baby, and you realise that you haven’t done any of those household things you were going to sort whilst you had time off.

Ah well.

I’ve partially re-joined society today. By which I mean I’m dressed, I’m actually planning on leaving the house later for a civilised goodbye-and-fuck-you to 2016 and I started thinking about some things to tick off my to-do list whilst watching Bake Off re-runs.

And I’m also taking a moment to reflect on 2016 which, I think we can all agree, was weird. I’m sure I don’t need to spell out why; we’ve all stared at our televisions/laptops/phones in appalled disbelief enough times this year. Momentous political shifts aside, on a more personal level, I think my highlights would be moving to St Albans with G, taking the first step in getting more time to write, and all the new places I’ve been lucky enough to travel to including Tenerife, Budapest and Iceland.

I’m not really one for making resolutions cos, lol, I don’t need more things to add to the ‘you really should be doing this rather than watching Netflix’ list but as well as eating more veg, being better at saving money etc, I hope 2017 is full of small, happy things, plenty of adventures, the guts to make some big decisions around my working life and a hella lot of writing.

And preferably less referendums and celebrity deaths.

Here’s what I learnt in the last 365 days:

1) Sweet and salted popcorn is actually the stuff of dreams and I have been SO WRONG all this time. 

2) Some friendships aren’t destined to last but that’s okay; it gives you more time to focus on the important ones anyway. 

3) Going to the cinema alone is strangely therapeutic and I am big believer that this is something we should all be doing every now and again. 

4) It’s important to make the little things count. Life really is horrendously short and you never know when the rug will be pulled from under your feet. Appreciate those tiny things that put a smile on your face.  

5) Candles make me feel calm and happy, and generally soothe my soul. I now have a whole box of candles in my living room and I will keep adding to it. Join me in this; you won’t regret it.  

6) Your twenties is a time in your life where you know people who constantly ask when you’re getting married and having kids and also know people who would think ‘when are you getting rid of it?’ was still an appropriate response to a pregnancy announcement. You know what’s nice? Drinking wine and avoiding the topic entirely. 

7) Doing what makes you happy and satisfied will always be more important than getting a bigger pay cheque. 

8) Sitting in a cafe really helps my writing juices flow. Particularly if they’ve nailed the optimum room temp and do good muffins. 

9) You will never regret making time for people, no matter how grumpy or fed up or tired of life you feel. Making the journey may feel like a lot, but seeing your favourite people will always give you a boost you didn’t even know you needed. 

10) You can’t change the big things; things like referendums and who will be president, things like terrorist attacks and wars, things like the economy and house prices. BUT. You can cast your vote, you can donate to charities helping those less fortunate and you can show kindness in all walks of life; in the hope that these small things create a world that isn’t as bad as it seems. 

You were an odd’un 2016 but I’ll still make the effort to say goodbye to you. My NYE plans include a lazy bath with a Lush bathbomb and some kind of sparkly drink before glamming it up a notch and heading out for a fancy meal and too much prosecco.

Please can we all pray that my planned dress still fits after the Christmas food carnage.

See ya next year guys; thanks for reading this little blog throughout 2016 <3

Dear 2016

21 Dec 2016

8 months living in St Albans

Living in St Albans

Yeah, okay, eight months is a random time point to do this post. I probably had every intention of writing this around the six month mark but TIME GOES SO FAST AND SUDDENLY I’VE LOST TWO MONTHS = my life.  

So we’re going with eight(ish) months. 

I just read back on the post I wrote about a month after we first moved in and you can really sense how jittery I was. Such a big move and lots of job searches was clearly making me bounce all over the place cos, lol, can’t handle big life changes. But you can also sense my excitement at getting ready to dive into St Albans and explore.

I’ve always loved St Albans. I grew up in Bedfordshire and St Albans was somewhere I’d occasionally wander to, always with the musing of how such a place could only be 20 minutes away on the train and yet be so much more interesting. Sure, the suburbs are pretty standard but the centre is basically exactly what I want from a place to live. Aside from the fact that there isn’t a John Lewis cos everywhere should have a John Lewis. Hashtag middle class problems.  

If you really had to push me, I might also request that they add a HMV cos where do I buy dvds but otherwise this little city has absolutely become my happy place.

Because ye old pubs and independent cinema and cobbled streets and markets and SO MANY PLACES TO EAT <3
  
And it breaks my heart a little bit that I won’t be able to stay here forever. FFS HOUSE PRICES. 

But, hey, we’re here now. Living in my dream place. At least I can say I did it right? 

We’ve had a few problems with some plaster falling off the ceiling and my allergies going haywire (you guys wanna calm down or nah?) and one little radiator not being able to heat up an open plan living room/kitchen but otherwise the flat has been pretty smooth sailing. Our things have places, there’s pictures on the wall and fairy lights and candles in most rooms cos essentials right? And in the corner (cos it is literally the only place it will fit), there is currently our first ever Christmas tree (as a couple that is; we weren't deprived children) twinkling away and filling me with all sorts of happiness. 

And I will never get over how good the location is. We are so central it’s ridiculous. Okay, sure, being right next to the cathedral does mean listening to bells all the time but I can be both in the park and in New Look within three minutes because it really is all on my doorstep. The Christmas market is NEXT DOOR for crying out loud. And when I say next door, I mean I can sing along to the Christmas tunes and smell the chestnuts from my bedroom. LIFE GOALS. 

Oh and I love the trees. We’re surrounded by them and it’s gorgeous.  We get the full force of the blossom and the summer greens and the autumn golds, and in winter we can just nose through the fairy-light covered branches at the people walking on by.  

Soz, I’ll stop talking about trees now. 

I gush about this place a lot and it’s not cos I want to show off or be annoying af, it’s because this little city and our little flat and our little life are all even better than I imagined. Even I was surprised by how quickly this place has become home.

I know there will come a day when we will want to buy a house and the chances of that happening here are slim to none because it’s just 20 minutes outside of London and unfortunately other people have also noticed how great it is here; meaning the house prices will make you sob into your peppermint tea. But, for now, I’m so glad this is where G and I decided to set up our first home together. It couldn’t be more of a dreamy place for your gal here.  

Living in St Albans
Living in St Albans


17 Dec 2016

Little Gems: 23

Little Gems

Happy Saturday! 

It's just over a week to go and I have dark red Christmassy nails, curly hair and am wearing my fave Slytherin-green oversized jumper. Come at me Christmas. 

I’m also on a train to York and wondering why virgin trains are rockier than a flippin’ boat at sea. Why is it not smooth sailing Richard Branson huh huh?

Some joy from the past few weeks:

1. Christmas

Sweet mother of all fairy lights, do I love this time of year. The temperature could do with dropping a degree or two (don’t ya just love global warming…?) but otherwise there’s Christmas trees and Love Actually and prosecco and SO MUCH SPARKLE.


2. December plans

Bath Christmas market = tick. Mine and G’s first Christmas tree = tick. Work xmas party = tick. Pick out this year’s tree decoration = tick. See the Covent Garden decorations = tick. Go back home to put my childhood Christmas tree up (because I refuse to waiver from tradition even though I no longer live at home) = tick. Currently heading up north for a big family Christmas meal, and there’s still so many things to tick off in the final run-up to the big day. It’s hectic and every time I look at my bank account I’m like LOL but all part of the fun.


3. Pret

Not gonna lie, I've always been a bit meh about Pret. Sure they do a good almond croissant and I'll occasionally enjoy one of their Brie and basil baguettes but nothing ever really grabs my fancy and the place always feels a bit manic and uncosy. Basically it ain't Costa. BUT. I recently discovered their warm halloumi and falafel wrap and was like 'woah what is this dreaminess?!' And then, sweet jesus, they brought out their new praline and Nutella cookie and OH EM GEE, that guy is one sexy bugger. So, yeah, Pret has jumped up in my estimation and you should go try that cookie asap. Warning: impossible to eat without making a mess.

Little Gems
Little Gems


4. The Fall

I’d heard good things about this drama and G and I were lacking things to watch so I took a chance and bought the first two seasons on dvd. And HOLY MOLY did I get addicted. We polished off all three seasons in a surprisingly short space of time and now there’s a Jamie Dornan serial killer shaped hole in my life.


5. Toni and Guy

Bit weird I know but I’ve been trying to find a hairdresser in St Albans that gets my hair (cos it’s so thick, you need someone willing to take on the battle) and I had such a good experience at Toni and Guy. It’s a bit more expensive then I’d usually like to pay for a cut and blow dry but it really was worth it. Think head massages, fancy conditioner and a hairdresser who understood that there is no need to make small talk. Aw yeah.


6. The Missing

The entire nation spent eight weeks being like IS ALICE WEBSTER ALIVE OR NOT and boy did it make a good distraction to get us through November. 


7. St Albans at Christmas

I can’t move for trees and sparkly lights and hundreds of people descending on the Christmas market; this place knows how to do Christmas.


8. 'Animal: the autobiography of a female body' by Sara Pascoe

WHAT A BOOK. Go read, go read!


9. Rimmel super gel nail polish

Nail polish has got on my nerves my entire life. It looks great for like a day and then bam, it’s chipped and I hate the inconsistency and messiness and want it off and then I pick it off and my nails look awful and WHAT WAS EVEN THE POINT OF THIS. But for the first time in my near-25 years, I have discovered a nail varnish that stays on for a solid amount of time and looks dreamy.


10. Festive celebrations

I cannot wait to be out of the office for a whole TWO weeks and do all the traditions and see my favourite people and have a week at home just me and G.<3

Little Gems

Enjoy your weekend!

12 Dec 2016

15 Activities That Will Instantly Make You Feel Festive

activities that will instantly make you feel festive

I keep doing a little excited hop whilst humming Fairytale of New York because I am all about this festive month. It truly warms my soul and, as soon as December hits, I have no shame in expressing my love for this time of year. But, just in case you’re not quite feeling it yet, here are some activities you can partake in to get ya in the mood.

Unless you’re a real life Scrooge (cough my sister cough), in which case probs best not to hang around me cos um, I’ve pretty much already done all of the below.

1) Paint your nails festive colours. Cos this is the time of year to rock those reds and golds, and they will instantly make you feel a more sparkly version of you. 

2) Make a camembert and cranberry sandwich (toasted of course). Or any other kind of festive sandwich for that matter. Should probably include stuffing of some sort.  

3) Speaking of food, do some Christmas baking. Or at least get your other half to do some baking. G filled the flat with the smells of homemade mince pies and sausage rolls on Saturday and it was divine. 

4) Oh just eat and bake amazing food all the time for the next month. That's basically the point of Christmas.

5) Decorate. OBVIOUSLY. Get that tree up whilst drinking a glass of prosecco. String fairy lights over your bookshelves. Hang stockings from the fireplace. Get tinsel round the mirror. Ya get the gist. 

6) Watch festive films. Cos duh. So far, I’ve ticked off The Grinch, The Holiday and Home Alone. As long as Love Actually has been watched before the big day, I’ll be happy. 

7) Wrap your present all in one go with music blasting out, more than one colour of wrapping paper and plenty of ribbons. You’re basically a real life elf. 

8) Burn Christmassy candles. By which I mean the Yankee Christmas Cookie candle because it smells like all the good things in life. 

9) Go and see your local Christmas lights. And not just the official ones. Wander around in the dark and see the ones your neighbours have also put up. Ordinary streets will suddenly seem magical. 

10) Get yourself to a Christmas market, preferably on a weekday or to a smaller one so you can wander around and drink it all in without wanting to murder the other eight million folk that have decided to show up. Listen to the carol singers and buy yourself some edible treats from one of the many stalls. 

11) Be a clichĂ© and try out the high street coffee shop festive menus as much as you want. Everyone is obsessed with the Starbucks red cups but Costa is my love. Their mint hot chocolate is so the one. 

12) Play Christmas music. Try and remember if you know anything but the same nine songs you play every year. Give up and play those nine on repeat for days on end.  

13) Go old school and buy a TV guide, like the Radio Times Christmas addition. Go through and circle all the gems that will be on TV this Xmas. DON’T FORGET SHERLOCK ON NEW YEARS DAY. 

14) TREAT YO’SELF. Maybe don’t go too crazy but I’m all for slipping in a little treat for yourself whilst Christmas shopping. Summin’ small and cute to tease in the excitement of presents. You are never too young for this.  

15) Get yourself in a glowing, cosy pub. Drink cocktails and more prosecco cos it’s Christmas god damn it.  

Merry Christmas <3 

8 Dec 2016

The weekend that reminded me what's important

The weekend that reminded me what's important - Bath/Bristol

What’s up huns? I had my first ever filling this morning and I’m finally regaining feeling in my face (first ever experience with anaesthetic also). I’ve spent most of my morning not being able to concentrate cos I can’t feel my bottom lip or chin and why does my tongue feel four times as large?! 

Not sure I’m really down with the numb face feeling.

Back to last week anyhoo. Which was not good. Nah uh. Hello, it was still November last week and I am not about that month (what’s the point of it exactly?).

Aside from my dislike of the non-month that is November, I also had some kind of existential crisis around my – I was gonna say ‘career’ there but lol, who do I think I am – working life.

You know the type. Where you confused and lost and why am I not a sassy business woman who got her shit together?

(Happens to us all right?)

By the time I hit my Friday writing afternoon, I had descended into all-out existential crisis chaos. I spent about two hours in Costa, staring into my peppermint tea, and wrote about five words before going home and painting my toenails cos that was all my brain was capable of.

Lol, why am I so pathetic?

It was a bit all-consuming and made me feel like moaning Myrtle and I just wanted someone to come along and fix me.

And they did.

G came home to find me in my sorry state (read, grumpy girlfriend painting toenails in grumpy fashion) and he hit up Tesco and came back with wine and pizza and garlic bread and breadsticks and cheese twists and DIPS.

We played Christmas music and put up the Christmas tree and watched the final two episodes of The Fall (FYI; best TV show I’ve seen in a long time).

Oh and then I dropped the pot of salsa on the floor and it literally exploded and went everywhere in every direction in an incident that shall be known as tomato-gate forever more.

G laughed cos he thought I’d just splashed a bit on him and I had to explain that, from his sofa location, he couldn’t see that it was ALL OVER THE FLOOR AND UP THE WALL AND SOMEHOW ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOM.

Yup, that happened.

On Saturday, I went to Bristol to catch up with my uni brother and sister. We watched The Grinch. We drank wine. Halyz and I shared vagina stories. We went back to Bath and wandered around the Christmas market and I remembered how flippin’ amazing our three years in that city were. We listened to carol singers. We discussed our lives and plans for the future. Haylz said something about how we freaked out when we left uni and then felt settled for a bit because we had jobs; and now we’re freaking out again because this is the time where we feel we have to make the bigger decision about what to do with our lives.

And I was like YES THAT WAS MY WEEK and remembered that I’m so not alone in the feeling.

Oh and I ate a doughnut and got jam down my arms, in my scarf and in my hair so there’s that.

Then I got ill and had to take two days off work. But you know what, cold and wheezing chest aside, I needed it. Needed to just do nothing for a couple of days; not even write. To just lie in a heap and watch The Holiday (I am reaaaally doing the Christmas films this year).

I needed all of it. To just chill with some of my favourite people and do little festive things and take a trip down memory lane and remember that life is not about work or success. Not even a little bit. It’s about the little moments and doing what you love, and your people. Mostly it’s about being happy.

Something to remember next time there’s a freak out about work or success.

The weekend that reminded me what's important - Bath/Bristol
The weekend that reminded me what's important - Bath/Bristol
The weekend that reminded me what's important - Bath/Bristol
The weekend that reminded me what's important - Bath/Bristol
The weekend that reminded me what's important - Bath/Bristol


1 Dec 2016

An Icelandic Road Trip | The South Coast

South Coast, Iceland

You've opened your advent calendar right? RIGHT?! It's a bloody good job Christmas is around the corner cos I am grumpy af atm. Someone just come and take away all my responsibilities. Please and thank you. In the meantime, I'm gonna keep writing posts about Iceland cos it gives me an excuse to look at photos of waterfalls.

Right, so, second part of this road trip (Golden Circle section here), and we're now heading to the south coast. 

Stop 5: Seljalandsfoss waterfall (the one you can walk behind)

Seljalandsfoss waterfall, south coast, Iceland
Seljalandsfoss waterfall, south coast, Iceland

Yep, you can walk behind a waterfall. Is that not incentive enough to go pay a visit to this babe? You don’t come out resembling a drowned rat but I would still recommend waterproof trousers if you have them (which I didn’t lolz). There’s a little cafĂ© (I recommend the smoothies) here so you can enjoy a picnic (if you’re going during the summer that is) in front of the waterfall, which falls over a mini cliff face. And then you can edge your way under the cliff face and around the back of the water which roars in your ears and soaks your jeans. Utterly amazing.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall, south coast, Iceland
Seljalandsfoss waterfall, south coast, Iceland
Seljalandsfoss waterfall, south coast, Iceland
Seljalandsfoss waterfall, south coast, Iceland
Seljalandsfoss waterfall, south coast, Iceland
Seljalandsfoss waterfall, south coast, Iceland

Stop 6: Reynisfijara beach 

Reynisfijara beach, south coast, Iceland

Technically, stop seven is closer to stop five, but we drove on to Reynisfijara beach so we could break up some of the journey on the way back by stopping at Skogafoss and it worked for us.

If you were going to imagine an Icelandic beach, this would probably be it. Volcanic, black pebbles with a glacier (man I wanted to go on that glacier) looming in the background. Mind blowing.

This particular beach is also famous for its unique, naturally formed rock sculptures. Some are in the sea, some hang over the sea and there’s an amazing sculptured cliff face and cave actually on the beach for you to check out and use up your camera memory over.

Reynisfijara beach, south coast, Iceland
Reynisfijara beach, south coast, Iceland
Reynisfijara beach, south coast, Iceland

 Stop 7: Skogafoss waterfall (the one with the rainbows)

Skogafoss waterfall, south coast, Iceland

This is what you might call a classic waterfall, in that it’s a complete vertical drop. This creates a crazy amount of spray so that, when the sun comes out, you can see all these rainbows in the mist. It was absolutely stunning. It was amazing to get up close to the bottom of a sixty foot waterfall (again, the spray) and fascinating to feel the temperature drop the closer you got. In terms of picture-taking, this was probably my favourite waterfall and I could have sat and watched it all day.

Skogafoss waterfall, south coast, Iceland
Skogafoss waterfall, south coast, Iceland
Skogafoss waterfall, south coast, Iceland
Skogafoss waterfall, south coast, Iceland


Iceland, you babe. <3